Did those teenagers just snicker at my belly? Should I have shaved today? Was that my fresh-man-year roommate who walked by? And isn’t he super-successful now? Am I going to meet my Azure deadline? Will I meet any deadline ever? Was that gas? Wait, was that gas?
My mind is a diagnosis-worthy whir in the best of times. When I dash around New York City, it shifts into an even higher gear of self-consciousness and internalized comparisons. Forest bathing, meet
your evil twin: downtown waterboarding. The last time I strolled my hometown in relative peace was probably two therapists and 16 pounds ago.
Similar inner voices must have driven Kyriaki Goti – a winner of this magazine’s A+ Student Award in 2018 and the founder of the design studio SomePeople – to conceive Sky Gazing Tower earlier this year. The installation materializes the desire to escape a scrum of people or self-molesting thoughts. It comprises a transportable steel frame that resembles an oversized tomato cage, from which straps of orange vinyl are hung into a chandelier shape. Stepping into the centre of these translucent swags and staring through their oculus is meant as respite from the physical closeness and social anxiety of city living. I’m not surprised that Goti’s SomePeople is based in peak Brooklyn, nor that Goti conceived Sky Gazing Tower for image-hyperaware Angelenos attending the LA Design Festival.
Kyriaki Goti isn’t the first creative type to help urban denizens recentre themselves in the madding crowd. Since at least the invention of the Walkman, the worlds of design and consumer technology have furnished people with all kinds of tools for turning inward. They have also transformed these citizens into disengaged consumers in the process. What prevents Sky Gazing Tower from participating in that trend is the utter visibility with which it provides balm. This sleek, giant, orange reinterpretation of the meditation hut may not only allay freak-outs, but also invite dialogue about how to solve them at their core.
The curiously open meditation hut aims to both allay urban anxieties and
invite solutions to them.